New England Patriots Team Outlook
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Patriots Offense Outlook
New England tends to run a high volume of plays each season while trying to be balanced if game score favorably presents itself. Last year they ran the ball 45.4 percent of the time with success in rushing TDs( 18). As Tom Brady gets older, the Patriots would like to help him out by running the ball well. They added another top back this year, which bodes well if/when they play from the lead. New England also knows they have to score to win games in the NFL. More of the same unless Brady has an injury.
The career record of Brady is just dazzling. He’s won 10 or more games in 16 of 17 full seasons, which includes an 11-1 record in 2016 when he missed four games. His only year with fewer than ten wins came in 2002 when he went 9-7. Tom ranks 4th all-time in passing yards (70,514) with Peyton Manning (71,940) and Brett Favre (71,838) within reach this season. Brady trails Drew Brees (520) for the 2nd most passing TDs (517) with the next target being Peyton Manning (539). Brady leads all QBs in regular season wins (207) and playoff wins (30) while winning six Super Bowls.
In 2018, Brady ranked 9th passing attempts (570) and 7th in passing yards (4,355) while delivering 29 TDs and only 11 Ints. There is no disputing Tom’s greatness, but he’ll start the year at age 42. Brady lost his top TE, which leaves a massive hole at the position. New England signed Demaryius Thomas who looks to be past his prime plus they added a dynamic WR (N’Keal Harry) in this year’s draft.
The Patriots have RB talent, but their defense will give up plenty of yards. I respect his WR core enough to expect another 30 TDs with a run at 4,500+ yards. Some Fantasy owners will shy away due to his age, but they don’t see that it is easy to add another upside second QB to cover the possible downside risk. The bigger question remains if Brady can outlast Drew Brees to finish as the top QB all-time in passing yards and TDs.
After flashing in his freshman season (75-for-109 with 1,265 yards, 12 TDs, and two Ints), Stidham decided not to return to Baylor due to a scandal and the firing of most of the coaches. Jarrett ended up transferring to Auburn where he started in 2017 and 2018. Over the last two years, he passed for 5,952 yards with 36 TDs and 11 Ints. His overall plays faded previous year due to a poor supporting cast, weaker offensive line, and sinking confidence. Stidham’s regression led to him falling in this year’s draft. Overall, he completed 64.3 percent of his passes in college with an excellent TD to Ints ratio (48:13).
Jarrett ran the ball 103 times in 2017, but he gained only 153 yards with four TDs. Stidham needs more time to develop while owing a football IQ to play at the next level. His first step is to improve his feel within a fading pocket to help him gain a bigger passing window without pulling the ball down.
Other Options: Brian Hoyer, Danny Etling
Coming into his rookie season, I expected a high-level of production for Michel after his success at Georgia (3,613 yards on 654 touches with 39 TDs and 64 catches while splitting time with the impressive Nick Chubb). Unfortunately, an August knee issue led to him missing the first game of the season plus hindered him multiple times over the year. When at his best during the year, Sony rushed for over 100 yards in four games in the regular season and twice in the playoffs.
He finished with 1,326 combined yards with 12 TDs and eight catches while touching the ball 18 times a game over his 16 games played. His best play came at home (ten TDs and five games with over 100 yards rushing). Last year the Patriots’ RBs ran the ball 445 times for 1992 yards and 17 TDs. Michel is the clear cut lead back, but the addition of Damien Harris does give New England another threat to steal touches. Look for the Patriots pull back the chances for Sony in 2019. Michel won’t see action on passing downs, and Harris will be a better option when New England wants to keep a run/pass option alive from the RB position. James White is the passing catching back who will see minimal early-down carries without an injury. I’ll set his bar at about 250 touches for 1,100+ yards and double-digit TDs.
Last year White had the best opportunity of his career, which led to career highs in rushes (94), rushing yards (425), catches (87), receiving yards (751), and TDs (12). Injuries in the backfield helped his chances, making James a great late RB2 over the first nine games (766 combined yards on 121 touches with ten TDs and 61 catches). Once Rex Burkhead returned to the field, the Patriots pulled back on the workload for White. He only had 60 touches over the last seven games while gaining fewer than 40 yards in three contest.
Against the Chargers in the playoffs, New England showcased him in the passing game (15/97). In 2018, the Patriots’ RBs caught 123 passes for 1,005 yards and eight TDs. White will average only three to five rushes per game, but he should be good for five catches a game. With 125 touches, a Fantasy owner can expect about 850 combined yards and five to seven TDs. His floor should be 175+ Fantasy points in PPR league making him a viable RB2 cheat.
For me, Harris has the “it factor” an NFL team should be looking for in a lead back. He gives off the appearance of bigger back than his size (5’10” and 216 lbs.). His first step acceleration after downshifting in tight quarters gives him many winning plays. Damien drives through contact with a unique feel for finding more open field. Harris tests defense when reaching the second level of the defense with his vision and power. In his senior year at Alabama (1,080 combined yards with nine TDs and 22 catches on 172 touches), he failed to show growth over his previous two seasons (1,136 combined yards with four TDs and 14 catches and 1,091 combined yards with 11 TDs and 12 catches).
His pass catching opportunity was short due to Josh Jacobs shining brighter in this area. Harris doesn’t fumble, and his game grades well in pass protection. For the Patriots, Harris becomes the insurance policy for Sony Michel plus gives New England that in between back that will stand tall in pass protection while being a threat to run and catch the ball. You could say he’s a better, more explosive vision of Rex Burkhead. Damien should receive between eight and touches per game while being tougher to time in the Fantasy market. Must handcuff for Sony Michel owners.
Other Options: Rex Burkhead, Brandon Bolden, Nick Brossette
After starting the season with a four games suspension, Edelman regained his previous form over 12 games played. He caught 74 passes for 850 yards and six TDs on 108 targets. His stats projected over 16 games would come to 97 catches for 1,133 yards and eight TDs on 144 targets.
Julian was a stud in the playoffs (26/388 on 35 targets) helping the Patriots win their sixth Super Bowl. Last year the Patriots completed 200 passes for 2,633 yards and 18 TDs on 296 targets. At age 33, his game should start to decline, but Edelman is a hard worker with high catch resume. A nice steady WR who should catch 90+ balls for 1,000 yards and mid-tier TDs.
Over the last two seasons at Arizona State, Harry caught 155 passes for 2,230 yards and 17 TDs. For his size (6’2” and 227 lbs.), N’Keal has surprising speed (4.53 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine) while being beast with his strength. He’ll do all the dirty work at WR while catching a high number of jump balls. Harry can make moves in the open field, but he won’t make many huge plays scoring plays over a long field with his legs. Complete monster in the red zone while being open even if a defender is draping all over him in coverage.
He’ll beat speed with power plus defeat physical press corners with his legs. N’Keal needs to improve his route running and work on improving his release. The loss of Rob Gronkowski creates an excellent opportunity in his rookie season. Draft with confidence as a WR3 in PPR leagues while expecting 60+ catches for 800+ yards and a run at double-digit TDs.
Decline has set into Thomas’s game over the last two seasons, which wasn’t helped by poor QB play in Denver. After a slow start with the Broncos (36/402/3 on 56 targets) over eight games), Demaryius was expected to see a bump in value after his trade to the Texans. In Houston, he caught about 70 percent (23) of his 33 targets for 275 yards and two TDs over seven games, but he struggled to get open on enough plays to steal chance away from DeAndre Hopkins. After playing in 111 straight games over seven seasons, Thomas suffered an Achilles injury in Week 16 forcing him to miss the last game of the year.
More of an afterthought in the Fantasy market until there is a cleaner update of his recovery from his injury. Also, Demaryius had an off the field incident involving an unfortunate car accident. Hopefully, he avoids a suspension in 2019. Worth a dart if the summer reports are positive on his health and his form looks improved.
The Patriots resigned Dorsett in the offseason after making minimal progress in his second year in New England. Last he caught 32 of 42 passes for 290 yards and one TD, which remains well below his expected value after the Colts drafted him the first round in 2015. His season started with two good games (7/66/1 and 4/655/1) in his first four starts as a Julian Edelman replacement.
Over the last 12 games of the year, Phillip posted a zero in six games with no catches or targets. In his other seven games, he caught all 16 of his targets for 125 yards and one TD. Only an insurance policy while offering speed and quickness to the Patriots’ passing game.
Other Options: Bruce Ellington, Maurice Harris, Braxton Berrios, Matthew Slater, Damoun Patterson
(Update: ASJ was waived.)
The void created at TE by the retirement of Rob Gronkowski may be a win for Seferian-Jenkins. Injuries tend to limit his playing time while never posting a playable Fantasy season. In 2017 with the Jets, Austin caught 50 of his 74 targets for 357 yards and three TDs. He missed 23 of 48 games over his first three years in the league plus another 11 games in 2018. Last year the Patriots completed 54 passes for 761 yards and three TDs on 78 targets to the TE position, which was well below the previous seasons with Gronk offering an edge at TE. Seferian-Jenkins may have a game or two, but he’s tough to trust based on his career path even with a QB that likes to throw to the TE position.
New England signed LaCosse for depth at TE in the offseason. After floating around the NFL for three seasons, the Broncos gave him his best opportunity in 2018. He caught 24 of his 37 targets for 250 yards and one TD. In college, Matt finished with 38 catches for 397 yards and six TDs. Only a low-level role player.
Other Options: Stephen Anderson, Ryan Izzo, Andrew Beck, Jakob Johnson
Over his 13 years in the NFL, Gostkowski made 87.4 percent of his field goal attempts with a high level of success from 50 yards or more (25-for-35). Entering 2016, Stephen never missed an extra point in the regular season. He whiffed on five of his 146 chances over the last three seasons. In 2018, he made 27 of his 32 field goal attempts leading to a 10th place ranking at the kicker position. Over his last eight years, Gostkowski averaged 36.1 FG attempts per year with well over 50 extra points each year. Stephen is an excellent kicker with a top five opportunity in most seasons.
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